The Kiln-dom of Nakazzi Hutchinson

Sunday Social

Sunday, December 16, 2018

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On Wednesday, December 12 Supreme Ventures director Steven Hudson hosted “an evening of exquisite art” featuring the works of Nakazzi Hutchinson. Hutchinson is a sculptor, painter and interior designer who also sees herself as an inventor. “I invented the process of the glass mask purely by chance, but I have been honing a language — a modern interpretation of the Roots culture of Jamaica.” For Hutchinson, this collection is all about roots; “the driftwood and the materials signify natural hair, locs and natural beauty — the essence of a Jamaican woman”.

Hutchinson, the child of “artists, writers and political activists”, was born in Jamaica but spent her formative years in Barbados, the birthplace of her father Ikael Tafari née Michael Hutchinson. “I am Jamaican first but Barbados is my home too. I grew up there from I was five years old and I still go back every year.” Hutchinson's mother is Jamaican artistic luminary Dawn Scott whose figurative batik pieces hang in the National Gallery.

Wednesday's event showcased a number of Hutchinson's ceramic and glass pieces. Since discovering the Japanese method of Raku, Hutchinson's work has broadened in appreciation. Raku sees a straight-from-the-kiln piece smothered in sawdust, leaves or twigs and immediately covered with an airtight vessel. The natural elements “burn” without the presence of oxygen and this creates the trademark crackle effect but also an unpredictable finish. Each piece is unique. Hutchinson did a live demonstration of two Raku pieces with her assistant of 18 years Sean Tenn.

Hutchinson has had quite the journey. While living in London as a university student, she used to walk through the tony neighbourhood of Mayfair peering through gallery windows. “I used to gaze through those windows wistfully at the art. In those days, a young woman of colour was an anomaly in that neighbourhood and I was aware that those doors were closed to me.” A year ago Hutchinson met Georgina Dhillon, the owner of a respected contemporary fine art gallery in London's West End. Each year Zari Gallery hosts a popular winter art show for which Dhillon carefully chooses artists. She chose Hutchinson. “I shipped a body of work from New York where I had the best of my pieces. I then came back to Jamaica and worked furiously for months to create a body of work that would be worthy of that show.” Dhillon was so enthused that she flew to Jamaica to select a number of pieces to include in the show.

Hutchinson was a hit! “The months of work really paid off.” The area in the gallery where Hutchinson's work was displayed was heavily trafficked all day. By 5:00 pm on December 6, the first day of the show, the majority of her pieces had been sold. The show continues until New Year's Eve. Since then Hutchinson has had several offers from collectors and, as a result, Dhillon has booked her for a solo show during the gallery's 2019 peak art season.

Hutchinson's work is not easy to categorise — the hallmark of a talented artist; ceramics is but “one of a myriad of practices” for this daughter of Jamaican soil. The evening of exquisite art was, in Hutchinson's words, “an epic evening in my life and I was so happy to have so many of my people there to share”.


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